Sheryl Sandberg's legacy is right in front of us
It's not, in fact, "complicated."
Sree’s newsletter is produced with Zach Peterson (@zachprague). We aren’t writing about the January 6 Committee hearings this time (we did so last week), so here’s a tragically evocative cartoon by Pulitzer-winning Adam Zyglis (@adamzyglisa).
🗞 #NYTReadalong: Our Father’s Day guest was Tom Jolly, Print Editor of the NYT. He made his third appearance on the show, reading the paper with us! You’ll find the live show and the recording, along with two years’ worth of archives at this link. The Readalong is sponsored by Muck Rack. Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
📺 My Digimentors team is working with companies and nonprofits around the world to create virtual and hybrid events. We’ve worked on events for 50 people and 100,000. See our updated brochure. Please talk to us if you need events help or social media consulting (no project too small or too big): email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEW PEOPLE HAVE AFFECTED our online lives — for better and worse — than Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook/Meta. As she leaves the company, the evaluations have been brutal. Here’s Max Chafkin in BusinessWeek:
And here’s Caitlin Flanagan on the “Lean In” side of Sandberg:
Of course, during her 14 years, she was mostly wide celebrated, but the end has not been kind.
Facebook/Meta is quite clearly Mark Zuckerberg’s company, and it always has been. Sandberg did, however, build the business part of the business, and she was front and center during both the Facebook boom, and the multiple PR and policy busts.
The scandals get (and got) a lot of attention — genocide in Myanmar, Cambridge Analytica, election disinformation, false-ad number reporting, misinformation, the gutting of multiple news industry revenue streams — and rightly so, but we rarely think about the broader consequences of the social web boom.
Facebook and Google completely cornered the digital ad market right out of the gate, and they really haven’t been challenged until relatively recently by Amazon. These three companies combine to eat up 64% of all digital ad revenue, a quarter-trillion dollar industry. This matters for a million different reasons, but I want to take a step back and look at how this not-quite-monopolistic-but-yeah-it’s-monopolistic system has created an internet that is just… clumsy. Most ad-supported sites can no longer function as ad-supported sites.
Every industry has been completely overturned as the internet has grown, evolved, and become ubiquitous. Some have thrived, publishing has not. The act of finding and getting content has never been easier than it will be tomorrow, but the monetary value of that content has absolutely cratered.
That’s what happens when supply swells ad infinitum day-after-day, for a few decades. It’s not all bad, of course. Think about how many thoughtful pieces you’ve read over the years, writing you found via a random RT on Twitter that lead to a newsletter that a few hundred people read. The social web has given us a lot, and has been the source of opportunity for a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t have had one. It’s also led to the near-total destruction of local news, the rise of an unrivaled right-wing information ecosystem, and an era of insecurity around personal data that we may never recover from.
A final thought about Sandberg… In her goodbye letter, she wrote that when she met Zuckerberg, she “still thought the internet was a largely anonymous place to search for funny pictures.” Her job at the time: VP of global online sales and operations at Google(!).
A word from Armory Square Ventures
On June 16, 2022, at its official Grand Opening, ASV portfolio company RealEats inaugurated its new 80,000 square-foot production facility in Geneva, New York.
The Ontario County location currently employs 160 people and the company’s expansion builds on the Finger Lakes’ vibrant agriculture and food processing sector and is a central part of the region’s Finger Lakes Forward economic development plan.
Armory Square Ventures first invested in July 2020. Thursday was a momentous day and we take this opportunity to recognize RealEats CEO Dan Wise, President Erik Battes, the RealEats team in Geneva, NY State Governor Hochul's Office, NY State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, NYS representatives in Geneva, Empire State Development and our co-investors, the New York State Common Retirement Fund, Hamilton Lane, Excell Partners and GNC. The company has realized an important milestone for the community and Upstate New York region!
Warmth and gratitude,
— Team ASV
Tech Tip w/ @newyorkbob: OneFirelight Wellness Platform — Let’s Get Together and Feel All Right
By Robert S. Anthony
Each week, veteran tech journalist Bob Anthony shares a tech tip you don’t want to miss. Follow him @newyorkbob.
What happens when tech collides with nature, serenity, yoga, dance and, of course, reggae music legend Bob Marley? The result is OneFirelight, a curated wellness platform which aims to attract users with a unique combination of professional instruction, soothing sounds and uplifting and relaxing visuals.
During the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, many people turned to online training classes or home exercise equipment to maintain their personal wellness regimens so much so that some products were impossible to find. While demand has softened for some high-tech exercise bikes, online instruction still remains a top fitness trend.
OneFirelight aims “to embody the ideals of community, fellowship and hope at a time when the world needs them most,” according to its website. Deeply infused in the platform is the music of Bob Marley, who died in 1981, and other socially conscious Jamaican artists.
At last week’s OneFirelight launch event at New York’s Tavern on the Green restaurant, Skip Marley, a rising star in his own right, serenaded attendees, many in exercise gear, with his grandfather’s iconic “One Love” and some of his own songs.
OneFirelight co-founder Kathryn Leary explained how an unexpected meeting with Bob Marley in Jamaica rescued her from a personal depression and helped her continue her studies at Stanford University and how the memory of his enduring friendship inspired her to create OneFirelight.
“Something called me to Jamaica,” said Leary. “I thought it would be healing for me.”
Leary said OneFirelight channels Bob Marley’s spirit by combining inspiring music and other soothing sounds with sweeping, uplifting, natural backdrops filmed in Jamaica, which she refers to as a “vortex of spiritual energy.”
For $35 a month, users get unlimited access to hundreds of streaming videos in categories such as meditation, boxing, strength training, dance, Pilates and yoga and can play them on unlimited devices. Users are encouraged to design a “mosaic” of OneFirelight’s offerings that suits their own needs. Classes are taught by professionals from various fields who have been vetted by OneFirelight.
No, there’s no shortage of online wellness training videos or live streaming trainers in cyberspace, but Leary said OneFirelight aims to create its own niche. “We think we are different from everyone else out there,” she said.